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U.S. Taking Lead in Great Barrier Reef Bomb Recovery

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An AV-8B Harrier. US Navy Photo

An AV-8B Harrier. US Navy Photo

The Navy’s 7th Fleet is taking the lead in the recovery of four bombs U.S. Marine fighters dropped near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Navy officials told USNI on Friday.

“In coordination with the Australian Defence Force, U.S. Seventh Fleet will take the lead in the safe retrieval and disposal of four bombs which were jettisoned off the coast of Queensland, Australia by two AV-8B Harrier aircraft in an emergency situation July 16,” according to a Firday release from 7th Fleet.
“The U.S. military is aware of its professional responsibility to mitigate the environmental impact of its exercises [and] operations.”
Fleet officials would not specify what craft or units it could employ to assist in recovering the bombs. One official did tell USNI News that the Navy would have the option of using Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships based in Japan.

Earlier this week Australian press reported U.S. and Australian authorities were planning to send a mine hunting ship to find the four bombs — two BDU-45 practice bombs and two unarmed GBU-12 Paveway IIs — dropped from two AV-8B Harriers during the ongoing Talisman Saber 2013 exercise.

“We are fully committed to redressing any potential adverse environmental impact in a timely manner. We will announce more detailed plans for recovery operations as they are finalized,” said the statement from 7th Fleet.